Of the (many) exhausting things about social media, one of the most tedious is the self-appointed authorities spouting armchair commentary on any and every subject, all while experts are increasingly degraded or ignored in our politics and media. From climate science to historical knowledge, if expert findings don’t suit a certain political narrative, they’re ultimately dismissed. Communications expert Ed Coper (Facts and Other Lies), economist Richard Denniss (Big: The Role of the State in the Modern Economy) and marine ecologist Adriana Vergés sit down with Sophie Black to consider how we make sense of the world and who we should be listening to when everyone’s an ‘expert’.

Adriana Verges (Australian)

Adriana Verges

Professor Adriana Vergés is a marine ecologist based at UNSW Sydney. She is passionate about communicating science and has published more than 80 peer-reviewed articles and book chapters. She is currently exploring the impacts of climate change in our oceans and developing restoration solutions to rewild our coastlines. Adriana is a lead investigator of Operation Crayweed and Operation Posidonia, award winning projects restoring missing seaweed forests and seagrass meadows. She was awarded the UNSW Emerging Thought Leader Prize in 2019.

Richard Denniss (Australian)

Richard Denniss

Dr Richard Denniss is Chief Economist at The Australia Institute, Australia’s foremost public policy think tank. A former associate professor at the Crawford School of Economics and Government at the Australian National University, Richard also worked as chief of staff for the then leader of the Australian Democrats, senator Natasha Stott Despoja, and as strategy adviser to the then leader of the Australian Greens, senator Bob Brown, as well as working as a consultant, company director and strategy adviser in the private sector. A prolific writer, Richard regularly contributes to The GuardianThe Australian Financial ReviewThe Saturday Paper and The Monthly. He has written or co-written six books, including the bestselling Affluenza: When too Much Is Never Enough and Econobabble: How to Decode Political Spin and Economic Nonsense.

Ed Coper (Australian)

Ed Coper

Ed Coper is a leading communications expert and was on the front lines when the internet collided with democracy, growing Australia's first online political movement GetUp to amass more members than every political party combined. He has been behind the scenes of many of the last decade's most prominent social movements, and founded the New York-based Center for Impact Communications. His groundbreaking campaigns have raised hundreds of millions of dollars for causes and won landmark social change. Ed is director of the Populares communications agency.

Sophie Black (Australian)

Sophie Black

Sophie Black is Head of Special Projects at the Wheeler Centre where she has headed up the writers scheme The Next Chapter, the podcast scheme Signal Boost, and the Walkley Award–winning podcast The Messenger. She writes regularly for The Guardian and was previously editor-in-chief at Private Media and editor of Crikey. She has delivered the Adelaide Festival of Ideas as director and is co-chair of the human rights publication Right Now.